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And Their Importance to Your Health

Your digestive gut (intestinal tract) is the largest immune system organ, containing up to 80% of your body’s immune cells. Therefore, the healthier your digestive system the healthier you generally are and vice versa. Factors like diet, exercise, genes, trauma, illness, lifestyle, medications, infections, and mental health all can influence the state of your gut microbiome.  Prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics all play an important role in maintaining a microbiome, considered essential to the human body.

Everyone is born with a miniature microbiome (eco system) inside the intestines. This eco-system is populated by trillions of microscopic organisms which include over a thousand species of bacteria, as well as viruses, fungi, and parasites. Most are good, some are bad. 

As you grow, your gut microbiome begins to diversify into many different types of microbial species. This eco system affects the whole body by controlling the digestion of food, immune system regulation, central nervous system, brain health and other bodily functions as well as keeping guard against harmful invaders.

Stress lowers numbers of beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria. Highly processed, low-fiber, high sugar foods and junk food chemicals harm our gut microbiota, as does a lack of exercise.

Many medications including antibiotics, antacids, proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen, statin drugs for cholesterol, chemotherapy, laxatives, and many more decrease the beneficial bacteria in our gut and disrupts the microbiome balance.

As you get older, your microbiome begins to lose its diversity, especially beginning at and beyond 50 years of age. Different species begin to dominate and there is a general decline in beneficial micro-organisms.

The good news is the microbiome changes as you change. Therefore, as you make healthier lifestyle choices, and utilize a quality prebiotic-probiotic-postbiotic, you can achieve a healthier microbiome.

Typical signs that indicate a microbiome is out of balance include lower abdominal pain, excessive gas, bloated stomach, burping, poor digestion, acid reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. Frequent or chronic illnesses and infections, mood swings, anxiety, or depression can also be signs of a microbiome in need of help. 

Prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics help to rectify an imbalance and maintain a healthy microbiome.  Each of them plays a different role and helps your microbiome and body in different ways. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms intended to maintain or improve the good bacteria (microflora) in the body. Prebiotics are foods (typically high-fiber foods) that act as food for human microflora.” Postbiotics are healthy by-products after the probiotic strains digest the prebiotics. This includes nutrients such as vitamins B and K, amino acids, and substances called antimicrobial peptides that help to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria, reduce inflammation, strengthen your immune system, and fight cancerous cells.


Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that already live in your body. They help your immune system fight off less friendly and potentially harmful microbes. They often are referred to as good bacteria in the gut. The most well-known are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. There are many other types of probiotics that have different benefits. However, it is not about billions or zillions! High numbers alone do not make a probiotic better.  It is the quality of the strain or combination of strains in a probiotic supplement that should be the first thing to consider, over the number of billions. A super high strength probiotic does not benefit you if it can’t survive or flourish in your digestive tract and can potentially put the microbiome out of balance. 


Prebiotics are not living organisms; they are fibers and polyphenols your body cannot digest and are a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria. Think of them as the fertilizer to help good bacteria (probiotics) grow. One of the main signs you need prebiotics is frequently experiencing digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating or gas. 

Prebiotics are often found in fibrous foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to consume enough prebiotic fiber every day. This often leads to a lack of prebiotic food to maintain a healthy level of good bacteria. Therefore, taking a probiotic supplement without prebiotics is like throwing seeds onto dry soil with no nutrients to help them grow.

Prebiotics can help improve digestion and metabolism, calcium absorption and increase bone density. They can also change the rate at which foods cause spikes in blood sugar and decrease insulin resistance and decrease constipation. It has been observed that prebiotics can increase the production of immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that help to fight off infections and reduce the risk of colon cancer and other cancers as well.

Prebiotics can help your microbiome keep chronic inflammation levels low and help support your gut-brain axis, a two-way communication system between your gut and your brain. It is a complex network of nerve cells, chemicals, and microbes, communicating constantly about many things both physical and emotional. 

More information passes between your brain and your digestive tract than any other body system. Incredibly there are more nerve cells in your gut than anywhere else in your body except your brain. The gut-brain axis plays an important role in maintaining balance of your entire body/immune system. It is involved when you get a gut feeling about something, or stomach cramps or elevated pain in the body when you are upset. 


The terms “postbiotics” and “postbiotic metabolites” are increasingly being studied by modern medicine. In The Mind-Gut Connection, author Emeran Mayer, MD states that our bacteria utilize the information in their millions of genes to transform the food into “hundreds of thousands of metabolites.” 

Harvard Health refers to them as the biochemicals produced by the probiotics from the prebiotic fibers and polyphenols. Healthy postbiotics include nutrients such as vitamins, amino acids, lipopolysaccharides, exopolysaccharides, enzymes, and substances called antimicrobial peptides that help to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria. Other postbiotic substances called short-chain fatty acids help healthy bacteria flourish.

A study authored by Dr. Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN, was published in the February 19, 2020, journal Integrative Medicine states, “Probiotics digest and ferment the fibers in foods, which produces a wide range of health-regulating compounds that known as “postbiotic metabolites. In the past several decades, scientists have been discovering that probiotic bacteria are amazingly complex little chemical manufacturing plants. The primary function of probiotic bacteria is to digest and ferment dietary fibers, which results in the production of a wide range of health-regulating compounds that are known as postbiotic metabolites. Postbiotic metabolites influence and regulate every organ system, including the brain and the immune system.”

Stanford Medicine states, “Scientists have recently gained an appreciation for the role of the human microbiome in health and disease.” Numerous medical research studies are just beginning to reveal the importance of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics. 

A study published in the November 2023 medical journal Medcomm concluded that “Extensive research and clinical evidence have demonstrated the mechanisms and effectiveness of probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics in restoring gut microbiota homeostasis and treating a variety of diseases. Based on current research and clinical evidence, probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics will play an even more important role in clinical treatments in the future and may become the next generation of representative medicines that will revolutionize the way we treat and manage diseases. When we take a prebiotic-probiotic-postbiotic supplement, not only are we introducing food for the microbiome, but we are also adding new friendly bacteria to the gut and facilitating the growth of our own indigenous friendly bacteria. Postbiotics also contribute to our gut health in such a way that our own natural resident strains of ‘friendly’ bacteria can recover and replenish, and our immune system begins the restoration of our health.”

A study published in Frontier Microbiology,  August 16, 2023 suggests that “They prevent the initiation, progression, and metastasis of transplantable or chemically induced tumors (Samanta, 2022). The effect of probiotics can be observed in suppressing both intestinal and extraintestinal cancers (So et al., 2017). The interaction of probiotics and their metabolites (bacteriocin, peptides, and organic acids) with critical metabolic pathways such as cellular proliferation, inflammation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis has been revealed by many researchers (Harikumar et al., 2013). Moreover, the probiotics inhibit carcinogenesis by inhibiting pathogens through competitive exclusion, increasing short-chain fatty acid production (Chong, 2014).”

Researchers state in the July 17, 2023, Cancer Reports, “Inflammation is a key factor in developing and progressing many chronic diseases, including autoimmune disorders, cancer, and heart diseases. Prebiotics have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. As a result, prebiotics can reduce inflammation in the gut and throughout the body, which may help to reduce the risk of cancer development and progression. Recent studies reveal that chemotherapeutic drugs can also contribute to chemotherapy-induced gastrointestinal toxicity (CIGT) as they alter the natural balance of the gut microbiota and increase intestinal permeability. Up to 80% of the patients undergoing chemotherapy experience CIGT. Microbiome therapy may offer a promising approach to mitigate these side effects and restore gut health by preventing or reversing dysbiosis, reducing treatment toxicity, and boosting the immune system. Ultimately, improving gut health through prebiotic therapies may provide a novel avenue for managing cancer treatment side effects and improving overall health and quality of life.”

It has also been observed that prebiotics can increase the production of immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that help to fight off infections.

A study published in the May 15, 2023, journal Frontiers Immunology states, “The gut microbiome has an impact on cancer immune surveillance and immunotherapy, with recent studies showing categorical differences between immunotherapy-sensitive and immunotherapy-resistant cancer patient cohorts.”

At the Tree of Life Wellness Center, the Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic formula has singularly excelled compared to the many probiotics we have tried in our 45 years of practice. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics (Essential Formulas Inc) is an Award winning, 100% natural, unique combination of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotic metabolites, not cultured or grown in a laboratory, as are most other probiotic products – but rather through a traditional Japanese fermentation process. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics features plant based natural Prebiotic nutrients which are encapsulated along with beneficial lactic acid bacteria and thirteen distinctive probiotic strains, including TH10, a proprietary strain which was discovered by award-winning microbiologist Dr. Iichiroh Ohhira after years of extensive research and development. A three-year fermentation process then guarantees that the strongest bacteria survive and results in essential Postbiotic nutrients beneficial for the entire body. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic formula has stood the test of time consistently helping our patients in their pursuit of good health. For more information go to

I do suggest if you have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) or FODMAPs intolerance, to check with your medical doctor before taking any Prebiotic-Probiotic supplements.

Healthy aging, quality of life and longevity begins in the digestive tract. Fortunately, the microbiome can change for the better and therefore, so can you!  With improved dietary changes and improved lifestyle choices, you can begin to restore your microbiome and start towards a healthier you. 

For specific help for your health concerns In-office and Telephone appointments are available at the Tree of Life Wellness Center Inc. (508-336-4242).

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